Periodicals; Mormons; Religious thought; Philosophy and religion
Independent national quarterly established to express Mormon culture and examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Mormons who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to insure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Mormon Church or of the editors.
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Rees, Robert A.
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82 I Dialogue creatio ex nililo,83 the creation being everywhere conceived of as the act of organizing "matter unorganized" (amorphos hyle), bringing order from disorder, the basic prerequisites for the work being space (chora) and unorganized matter.84 And so we have in the Pistis Sophia, continuing the Egyptian teachings, the picture of a constant remixing (kerasomos) going on in the universe in which old, worn-out, contaminated substances, the refuse (sorm) of worn-out worlds and kingdoms (247-240), is first thrown out on the scrap-heap and returned to chaos as "dead" matter (134; 41 ;68), then melted down in a dissolving fire for many years (366), by which all the impurities are removed from it (249), and by which it is "improved" (Ch. 41, 68), and is ready to be "poured from one kind of body into another" (251). This whole process by which souls as well as substances are "thrown back into the mixing" (14), is under the supervision of Melchizedek, the great reprocessor, purifier, and preparer of worlds (35f.). He takes over the refuse of defunct worlds or souls (36), and under his supervision five great Archons process (lit. "knead"—ouoshm) it, separating out its different components, each one specializing in particular elements, which they thus re-combine in unique and original combinations, so that no new world or soul is exactly like any other (338). In this full-blown pleniarism there is no waste and no shortage: "If any were superfluous or any lacking the whole body would suffer, for the worlds counterpoise one another like the elements of a single organism."85 The worlds go on forever: "They come and come and cease not, they ever increase and are multiplied, yet are not brought to an end nor do they decrease."86 It was essential to the Plan that all physical things should pass away; this idea is depicted by the ancient Egyptian symbol of the Uroboros, the serpent with his tail in his mouth, representing the frustration of material things or matter consuming itself by entropy.87 Indeed, the Pistis Sophia describes the Uroboros (which means "feeding on its own tail") in terms of the heat-death, when it reports that fire and ice are the end of all things, since ultimate heat and ultimate cold both mean an end to substance.88 Though matter is replaced through an endless cycle of creations and dissolution, only spirit retains conscious identity, so that strictly speaking "only progeny is immortal," each "mounting up from world to world" acquiring ever more "treasure" while "progressing towards His perfection which awaits them all."89 When the Apostles formed a prayer-circle, "all clothed in garments of white linen," Jesus, standing at the altar, began the prayer by facing the four directions and crying in an unknown tongue, "Iao, Iao, Iao!" The Pistis Sophia interprets the three letters of this word as signifying, (1) Iota, because the universe took form at the Creation; (2) Alpha, because in the normal course of things it will revert to its original state, alpha representing a cycle; (3) Omega, because the story is not going to end there, since all things are tending towards a higher perfection, "the perfection of the perfection of everything is going to happen"—that is "syntropy" (Pistis Sophia, 358). The eternal process is thus not a static one, but requires endless expansion of the universe (p-sor ebol mpterf) (193 end, 219, 225, etc.), since each dispensation is outgoing, tending to separation and emanation, i.e., fissure (220), so that "an endless process in the Uncontainable fills the Boundless" (219). This is the Egyptian paradox of expanding circles of life which go on to fill the physical universe and then go on without end.90 Such a thing is possible because of a force